Caring for Succulents During the Chilly Winter Months

As temperature is starting to drop, you will be wondering if your succulents will be okay. To take good care of your succulents in the winter, we have some useful tips for you. Here is a complete guide of how to winterize your succulents.

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Succulents are captivating plants known for their lush, shapely leaves and incredible drought tolerance. While we often associate succulents with hot, arid climates, many varieties also thrive during the winter as long as they receive proper care.

In this article, we’ll explore how to nurture your succulents through the winter so they stay happy and healthy when temperatures drop. Follow these tips to keep your succulents looking fabulous all season long.

Choosing Winter-Hardy Succulents

Not all succulents tolerate frosty conditions. When selecting plants for your winter garden, opt for hardy varieties that embrace the cold. Sedums, sempervivums, and euphorbias are excellent choices. Double check plant tags before buying to ensure the succulent is suited for your gardening zone.

If you want to overwinter more delicate succulents like agave and aloe, choose sheltered outdoor spots or bring them inside. Tender tropical succulents will require indoor living spaced during the winter months

Transition Succulents Indoors Gradually

For succulents used to living outdoors relocating them inside can be quite a shock. To help tender varieties adjust start bringing them indoors for short periods on warm fall days. Slowly increase the time spent inside over a period of weeks.

Once nighttime temperatures drop below 50°F, it’s time to move succulents into indoor living full time. A sunny windowsill that gets at least 4 hours of direct sun per day works beautifully. South or west-facing windows are ideal.

Minimize Watering During Winter Dormancy

Succulents enter a rested state during winter, requiring less water than their growing season. Overwatering dormant succulents is a leading cause of rot and decline.

For outdoor succulents rainfall and melting snow may provide enough hydration. Only water if soil dries out. Indoors, water deeply just every 2-3 weeks. Always allow the soil to completely dry between waterings.

Reduce water even further for totally dormant succulents shedding leaves and going bald. Aim for every 3-4 weeks. Let plump farina-covered leaves guide you.

Protect Outdoor Succulents from Excess Moisture

While succulents need less water in winter, too much rainfall or snow can still harm them. Prolonged moisture against leaves invites rot.

Use an overhang or canopy to keep rain and snow off succulents. For potted plants, move containers under shelter. Topdressing pots with pebbles boosts drainage.

Wrap larger outdoor succulents with fabric row cover or foam insulation sleeves. Remove coverings on sunny days so plants get needed light.

Give Winter Sunshine and Bright Light

Although succulents grow slower in winter, ample light keeps them from stretching and becoming leggy. Outdoor full sun is ideal. Supplement with grow lights if winter days are short.

Indoor succulents require very bright light from a south or west window. Add gooseneck grow lights to give 12-14 hours of bright light daily. Rotate plants regularly so all sides get lit.

Watch for Pest and Disease Issues

Dry indoor air and close quarters make winter primetime for succulent pests like mealybugs and spider mites. Check for bugs frequently and treat any infestations quickly with insecticidal soap.

Overwatering raises the risk of fungal issues like powdery mildew and rot. Let soil dry completely between waterings and remove dead leaves promptly. Provide good air circulation.

Check for signs of winter sunburn. Gradually acclimate plants to increased light intensity. Light sunburn often resembles thirst – confirm soil is dry before watering.

Consider a Heat Mat for Tropical Succulents

Warm-climate succulents like Adeniums appreciate a little extra heat in winter. Use a heat mat or reptile heating pad set to 70-80°F to keep their roots warm.

Avoid drastic temperature swings. Turn the heat mat on and off gradually. Monitor soil moisture and adjust watering accordingly. The added warmth can dry soil faster.

Fertilize Cautiously During Dormancy

Cool weather means slower succulent growth. Avoid pushing growth with frequent fertilizing over winter. At most, use half strength diluted liquid fertilizer once in early winter before dormancy hits.

Never fertilize mid or late winter since this stimulates foliage growth that could freeze or become damaged. Wait until spring when days lengthen and temperatures warm.

Protect From Frost and Freezing

No matter how hardy the variety, succulents suffer damage below 32°F. Tropical succulents can decline below 50°F. Prevent cold injury by moving pots to a sheltered spot or indoors.

For in-ground plantings, mulch the roots with a thick layer of pine straw or bark. Drape flexible garden fabric over plants when hard freezes threaten. Remove immediately after.

Provide a Cool Rest Period for Dormancy

To stay healthy long term, many succulents require a cool winter dormancy of 50-55°F for 6-8 weeks. This mimics their native climate and triggers new growth in spring.

Indoors, give dormant succulents the coolest spot away from heat vents. Let soil dry between sparse waterings. Stop fertilizing. Reduce lighting to 8-10 hours daily.

Wait Until Spring to Repot Succulents

Repotting stresses plant roots. Succulents should be repotted in spring right after dormancy when they enter active growth. Avoid reporting in fall or winter.

If a succulent badly needs repotting in winter, choose a pot only 1-2 inches larger. Use fast draining cactus mix amended with extra perlite or pumice. Keep freshly repotted plants dry.

Monitor for Pest Infestations

Carefully watch for signs of mealybugs, spider mites, and other pests when bringing plants indoors. Treat any bugs immediately to prevent spreading.

Isoalate new plants for a few weeks before introducing to your indoor collection. Check for issues and treat if needed before combining with other succulents.

Get Set Up to Provide Strong Winter Light

When preparing to overwinter tender succulents, assess your lighting options beforehand. Do windows provide adequate sunlight? If not, shop for grow lights in fall.

Choose full spectrum LED grow lights that offer intensities of 2000-3000 lumens per square foot. Position lights 6-12 inches above succulents for 12-14 hours daily.

Remove Spent Foliage and Flowers

As winter approaches, tidy up succulents by pinching off dried leaves, blooms, and stems. This spruces up plants and removes potential disease sites.

Don’t remove actively photosynthesizing leaves unless they show signs of rot. Some succulents shed older sets of leaves naturally in winter and grow new ones in spring.

Acclimate Succulents Slowly

Prevent sun shock by gradually introducing tender succulents to increased outdoor light intensity in spring. Start with an hour of morning sun per day.

Slowly begin leaving plants outdoors for longer periods over 2-3 weeks. Bring back inside if temperatures drop below 45°F overnight. This hardens growth before summer.

Enjoy Winter Beauty and Colors

Many succulents dazzle in winter with cool tones and colors. Sedums and sempervivums develop rich reds and purples. Ice plants and Dudleyas gain tips of bronze, pink, and orange.

Outdoor succulent arrangements make striking winter garden focal points. Frost sparkles on fleshy leaves. Backdrop evergreens show off rosettes and textures.

Monitor Water Needs Closely

Check soil moisture frequently when wintering succulents indoors. Ensure pots feel lightweight and soil is completely dry before watering again.

If you lift the container and soil still feels cool and damp a few days after watering, your plant needs a better draining soil mix to prevent overwatering issues.

With proper care tailored to the winter season, your succulents will sail through the chilly months looking fabulous. Just be attentive to their needs for sunlight, water, and temperature, and you’ll be rewarded with happy plants all winter long!

When is the right time to bring succulent indoor

Most succulents are used to living in dry, hot places, so it’s especially hard for them to deal with cold weather in the winter.

When the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, some succulents, like Echeveria, Crassula, and Aloe, will need to be protected from frost. Most of the others can survive when the temp is above 40 Fahrenheit degrees.

Regardless of genus, you should never put your succulents in freezing temperature. The reason is easy to understand: succulents store a lot of water in their stems, leaves, and trunks. When it freezes, the water expands and breaks through the cells’ membrane. Eventually, the plant will die.

The plants know when winter is coming, by sensing shorter days and lower temperature. However, you can trick your succulent by winterizing them. You can bring the plant indoors, provide it with proper care, before it gets too cold outside.

In short, the best time to bring succulents indoors is when fall comes around. Don’t wait until winter because you don’t want your plants to be able to tell when the weather is changing.

How to winterize succulents

Before actually putting your succulents indoors, first spray them with a surface insecticide. To make sure your succulents are pest-free, this work should be done at least three weeks before they come inside. This will prevent insect and pest from spreading to your other indoor houseplants.

Next, remove the debris, weeds, and leaves, then check if there is any sign of infestation. If you see flies start to gather around the succulents, change the soil. Otherwise, they will soon spread to the nearby plants when you move them inside your house.

Make sure your succulent in well-draining soil and a pot with drainage hole. Succulents need good air flow to keep their roots healthy. Since airflow is usually better outside, a good soil mix is important for growing succulents indoors. You can also add pumice or perlite to increase drainage of your potting medium.

Along with these steps, gradually reduce the amount of water for your succulents. Less water and lower temperature will put the plants into dormancy and help them survive the cold winter.

How to Care for Indoor Succulents in the Winter


What temperature is too cold for succulents?

Be aware that temperatures either too low or too high can do harm to your succulents. Temperatures lower than 40°F or higher than 90°F are never recommended. In summer, the combination of high temperatures and full sun exposure can cause sunburn for your succulents, damaging both the leaves and the root systems.

How do you keep succulents alive in the winter?

Bring the succulents inside During the winter time, water them sparingly, just enough to keep them from dehydration. Also make sure the temperature is always between 50 – 60 Fahrenheit degrees. Another thing to consider for indoor adaptation is providing enough light for succulents in winter.

How often do you water succulents in winter?

During the winter months, when the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it is recommended to water your succulent only once a month. For some succulents, once a week might be best, but be make sure to monitor your succulent to see if it needs more or less frequent watering.

Can succulents be outside in winter?

Hardy succulents: Tolerate frost and can stay outdoors through below-freezing temperatures. They’re ideal for year-round, outdoor growing. In fact, hardy succulents grow better outdoors than in!

How do you care for succulents in the winter?

Indoor care for succulent plants in the winter is primarily about lighting. Many are dormant during winter and need little water. Winter is the season of growth for some succulents, though, and they need water, food, and even pruning. Learn your plant’s names so you can research their individual needs and provide adequately for them.

How to grow succulents in winter?

You can also add pumice or perlite to increase drainage of your potting medium. Along with these steps, gradually reduce the amount of water for your succulents. Less water and lower temperature will put the plants into dormancy and help them survive the cold winter. 2. Bring the succulents inside

How much light do succulents need in winter?

When trying to provide proper succulent care in winter, experts recommend 14 to 16 hours of light daily. The right winter care for succulents indoors includes locating them in a bright area, similar to what they were getting outside. Avoid putting them near drafts but do offer good air circulation.

When should you water cacti & succulents in the winter?

Succulents are a great choice because they can withstand longer periods of time without water. Daniel has an easy way to determine when to water cacti and succulents in the winter. “I like to put my finger in the soil down to the first knuckle,” he said. “If the soil is dry, I think it’s fine to go ahead and water.

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